How ‘Wayne’s World’ Was a Victory for Freddie Mercury After He Died
Freddie Mercury was near death when Brian May showed him a scene from the then-unreleased movie Wayne’s World. In the clip – which has become one of the most celebrated in rock-movie history – the lead characters are seen head-banging to the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
By the time Wayne’s World was released in February 1992, Mercury had been dead for three months. But the success of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene helped rebuild the legacy of Queen, who’d fallen out of favor in some parts of the world in the years preceding the singer's death.
“I took [a VHS tape of the scene] ’round to Freddie not long before he went and showed it to him, because you said you wanted to have the approval,” May told Wayne’s World creator Mike Myers in a video reunion of some of the movie's leading players. “He loved it, he just laughed and laughed. He was very weak, but he just smiled and laughed. He said, ‘How wonderful is that?’”
It seems Myers had never heard the story, because he replied: “I didn’t know that. That’s ... I can’t even. My little Toronto head can’t handle that. But that’s fantastic.” “We loved [the scene]," May replied. "We still love it. We always will.”
Watch the 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Scene From 'Wayne's World'
The guitarist went even further, crediting the moment with offering reassurance to Mercury in his final days. “He had been known to say, ‘Look, I suppose I have to die before we get America back,’ but you guys did it,” May recalled. “You got us back to a new American public, and Freddie was very aware of that. He got totally into it, and he went to the next place knowing what had happened and enjoying it.”
Co-star Dana Carvey described Queen’s signature song as “just a full-blown masterpiece. ... I give Mike total credit for picking it out. I didn’t get it initially. But when that break kicks in and we syncopate to it, it’s pretty magic. It still gets me when I see it.”
In response, May revealed why he felt it had worked so well. “With Freddie’s stuff and with Queen’s stuff there was always a little tongue-in-cheek," he noted. "And I think you guys latched into that.”
The guitarist admitted in 2015 that he himself had imitated the classic movie moment while driving. Myers said his young daughter would start head-banging without prompting when she heard the song. Touching on the global impact of the scene, he added, “I met Henry Mancini and he said to me, ‘Hey, kid, that thing you did with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – one of the greatest moments of music in film. And I’m Henry fucking Mancini!’”